The North Cheshire Clarion crack Audax team (minus Andy who was busy) were up at stupid o’ clock travelling to Shipton, North of York. What awaited Anthony and I was a 130 mile audax including the climbs of Buttertubs, Tan Hill and Leyburn Moor!
A prompt (for once) 8am start saw us ride North East towards the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The first 24 miles were relatively flat but then it gradually started to climb. We also turned West and into a pretty fierce headwind. The first stop was at the Border House Tea Rooms in Masham
Setting off again the headwind was still strong and carried on through to 56 miles, sapping the legs and proving ideal preparation for climbing Buttertubs! We had passed through some lovely countryside and very smart villages but the scenery going up Buttertubs was absolutely stunning. The clear air and good weather meant the views went on for mile upon mile, which in part helped take the mind of the steep and relentless climbing! It lasted about 3 miles, ascended some 1000ft and hit 15% gradients. The wind was whipping across us now and at the top there is a sheer drop to the side of the road protected only by a high-tensile wire barrier designed for cars – plenty of room for a cyclist to go through it – making it a little bit “exciting!” The descent down the other side was fast, furious and superb fun, hitting 45mph at its fastest.
The clue to the next challenge is in the name of the event – we climbed Tan Hill. This was a longer climb – 6 miles – but only (!) ascended 750ft. At its steepest part it was 17% but somehow felt easier than Buttertubs because there were a number of flatter “rest” plateaus on the way up. It led us to the Tan Hill Inn which is the highest pub in England and seems hugely popular as it was packed. They also act as a control point so the organisers must have a decent relationship with them, but we were disappointed as the service was really, really poor.
We now believed the worse was behind us and we were looking forward to another fast descent – which we got. So fast that I was contemplating overtaking a car until it pulled out of our way and let us through!
There was one more hill to climb at Leyburn Moor, which turned out to be worse than Tan Hill! It rose some 800ft over about 4 miles and was just relentless with no break from start to finish. A horrible little climb.
That put us at 87 miles and thankfully 15 miles of downhill and then flat all the way! A quick pick-me-up at the Posthorn tea room in Leyburn meant we had 40 miles to go, and we decided to give it everything. The next 10 miles we completed in 27 minutes, the next after that in 33. In short we managed to do the final 40 miles in just over 2 hours and then enjoy free tea, sandwiches and cake at the end. It was 7pm and we had been out 11 hours, although only 8hrs and 36m of that were riding (apparently the first finisher was at 3-20pm!!!!!) Anyway, we were now officially Randonneurs.
If you haven’t done an Audax, do one. This event was everything that is excellent about audaxing – a great route, good organisation, superb value for money and really friendly people – including three pensioners we’d met several times around the route and who finished just after us! Thanks to Mark Antrobus and Clifton Cycling Club for organising.
Ride Stats : 130.21miles, 8hrs 36m, 5715ft climbing, 15.1mph average, 6650kcals used